Veterinarians are convinced livestock ranchers in the United States are equipped to deal with the possibility of anthrax being used by would-be saboteurs on their animals. Officials say ranchers who are aware of the signs of disease will be able to cope. Bob Krauter, a spokesman for the California Farm Bureau, noted there have been only 10 known livestock anthrax cases in California since 1991. "The livestock industry is on alert to the potential for terrorism," Krauter said. "Producers should be aware of the signs and risk factors for anthrax in cattle. I think if we do that, we'll prevent any possible problems," Krauter said. Krauter also said he thinks that the chances of people contracting illnesses after being exposed to livestock infected by anthrax is unlikely. "It's very rare that if you have a diseased animal that an individual would get the disease from that animal," he said. "I think it's important that producers report suspected anthrax cases to veterinarians," said Krauter. "They know how to handle any animal that is diseased or has died and can minimize and prevent any possible impact on the public."
Veterinarians note that anthrax rarely affects large numbers of animals because it is not contagious in livestock. They also note vaccines exist for ranchers to protect their livestock when an infection occurs, although some officials say vaccines should rarely be used because they consist of weaker versions of the anthrax virus and can cause infections themselves. Anthrax most commonly affects livestock when they ingest spores while grazing on grass that is infected. Cattle, sheep and goats are very susceptible, while horses and hogs are less likely to be affected.